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Computer recording / Outboard gear

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I make hip hop music and the only things i record are samples off of vinyl and vocals.

I sequence my drums, chop my samples and lay basslines through vsti's in cubase. When i mix all my tracks are audio files on the computer.


My question is this.


What is the best way to use outboard gear?


Is the only way to do it to set up output busses in cubase for my sound card outputs and run them through the outboard gear only to run them back into another input on my sound card? If this is the case then the majority of "professional" audio interfaces dont provide nearly enough outs and ins for this.


I have the M-audio 1010LT. I run my mic and turntable into 2 inputs and have set up 2 output busses and 2 input busses in cubase to allow two channels of outboard compression. This maxes out my inputs which means i can have no more than two channels of outboard effects without disconnecting my mic or my record player.


When i read articles in mags and books about people mixing i see things like "i run the kick through a compressor and then a pultec", "i patch the guitar through a compressor and a delay." "I take the snare and run it through heavy compression" If these people use outboard gear on all their tracks then how do they do it? Is pro tools the only answer? The most outs ive seen on a card is the MOTU firewire card with something like 22 outputs. That would ALMOST do it for some of my mixes. I thought about having a large mixing board but if you dont have the outputs to get the audio to the mixing board then its worthless right? I must be missing something.


What I ask of you people is to share with me your ideas, opinions and personal views on the best interfaces and strategies to use outboard gear with computers.


Thanks in advance because I know you people know this stuff.

Hip Hop is Future. Every generation breeds a new musical style and like it or not, Hip Hop is now.
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how does a patchbay work in conjunction with my computer interface? dont i still need as many outputs on my sound card as tracks i want to process with outboard gear?
Hip Hop is Future. Every generation breeds a new musical style and like it or not, Hip Hop is now.
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Don't worry, it's not as bad as you think.


First, you can use plug-ins for a lot of the functions of outboard gear.


Second, yes, you do need multiple ins and outs. But you can probably save some I/O by using some as buses. For example, suppose you want to run three tracks through tempo-synched delay or a vocoder. You mix these to a bus, send that one bus to the effect, then bring it back in to an interface input.


You can also record through the device into a track. Then once the track is recorded with the effect, unpatch the outboard gear or use it for another track. This also makes for an easier to manage setup -- if you use analog gear that doesn't have presets and get it tweaked just right, RECORD IT before it goes away! You don't have to worry about getting it set up the exact same way next time you start work.


If you have any follow-up questions please post them, I'd be glad to work with you on this as I'm writing an article for EQ on using outboard gear with DAWs. If I have a better idea of what people don't understand about this, that will make for a better article.

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What Craig said.


Route all your gear to a patchbay. Then, say you want to use an outboard comp on vocals, simply patch it into your sound card i/o and record the results.


As long as you pay attention to latency so that the recorded tracks line up with the originals, you can record things like 100% wet reverbs and use them with the original tracks to make a wet/dry mix bu using say 70% of the original and 30% of the 100% wet reverb track you just recorded.


All the recording takes more time than having multiple cards always wired into your favourite outboard but it's a hell of a lot cheaper ;)

"That's what the internet is for. Slandering others anonymously." - Banky Edwards.
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As he mentioned, the latency issue does matter as there will be delay going out of the computer, through an effect, and back in again.


The solution here is to compare the original track being sent out for processing with the newly recorded track. Advance the new track in time until it lines up with the original track, then mute the original track.

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Ya right now thats basicaly what im doing..

grouping the kick and the bass and then grouping all the vocal takes and running those two busses through my compressor on seperate channels. Everything else is plugs.


I have some more questions.


When i bring the compressed/effected signals back in to the sound card do I want to layer them behind the originals or replace the originals with the effected tracks? Or is it a matter of choice?


As im sure you know, in cubase you can set up and effects channel track with say a reverb, build your acoustical space and then use the send levels to adjust the amount of wetness for each track. Is there anyway to do this in cubase with a hardware reverb unit without having a mixing board? Cause that would be insanely sick and really help my CPU usage. Just the switch from acid to cubase allowed me to mix much more efficiently but if i didnt have to use any software reverbs i could keep my mixes flyin.


Thanks for the help and as far as your article goes, I, as I continue to learn new mixing and recording techniques, am concerned with 3 things.


1. How to minimize CPU usage when mixing. Using outboard gear effeciently, such as reverbs and other CPU hungry effects, to where you can mix a 24 track song, with at least a plug on every track, and not stutter at playback.


2. The easiest and most effecient way to use your outbard gear with your audio interface. I would say that the majority of audio interfaces between $200 and $1000 have an average of 8 ins and 8 outs. Some have more some have less. Explaing how you personaly would mix a song using this type of interface, juggling between your hardware and plugs and explaing techniques to save I/O, would be an awseome article.


3. Now that i think about it, all three of these things are basicaly the same thing, haha, but the third thing is technique. How do the pros do this shit. When a pro sits down and bangs out a mix and the mix is based around a computer, i wanna know exactly what they did. Im not talking about the settings but rather the logic behind linking hardware with software.


Another cool thing to talk about would be the best gear to set these type of situations up. What are the best cards if you plan on using outboard gear? What outboard gear will be most beneficial to your studio if you have limited I/O? What do you need and what dont you need for certain situations?


I think of new shit to ask people all the time so im sure ill have more questions soon.

Hip Hop is Future. Every generation breeds a new musical style and like it or not, Hip Hop is now.
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